Like our member artists, I love creating things. When I founded the nonprofit, I first sat at my desk just planning, researching, and willing it into existence. Bringing beautiful things to the world is what we do here at Seven Fires Art.
There have been ups and downs, but the overall positive momentum of our mission has always prevailed. Our online sales doubled in 2020 and continue to rise. We are proud that our model of bringing income to Native artists through online sales has been proven through the pandemic and thankful that we could continue to generate business for artists when other sales venues closed.
Because of that momentum, we were awarded three small CARES Act grants from the South Dakota Arts Council in 2020 and 2021 totaling $12,500. This money was all earmarked for paying artists and generating sales. And by the way, we have also generated $28,500 in grants for individual artists since 2020!
And now this year we will be receiving an American Rescue Plan grant of $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts! Although not huge, it’s a true game changer for Seven Fires Art! Part of this two-year grant will be used to continue buying art and for marketing, but the majority is budgeted to pay a small director’s salary as well as providing a small salary for hiring an operations manager to help handle the increasing workload!
It would be easier and a lot less expensive to hire someone to work out of my home in Iowa, but creating jobs on the reservation has always been our core goal. It's the right thing to do. I also believe there is more potential for growth and recognition for the organization by being situated on the reservation.
And I am very happy to announce that Miranda Red Cloud has accepted the position! Miranda is a charter member of Seven Fires Art and her beautiful traditional artwork has been a mainstay of our online store since the very beginning. I have known Miranda over the years as trustworthy and hard working. She has employment experience at Red Cloud School, Big Bat’s and Prairie Wind Casino and she has completed courses in business administration at Oglala Lakota College. Miranda lives in Pine Ridge with her partner Jerrod Cordier and their three children.
But the next hurdle was finding office space! The good news is that we found a great space in a secure building next to the Pine Ridge Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. This location brings the unexpected potential for visitors – including tour groups – so we will also be setting it up as a gallery and will surely generate some in-person sales!
To carry out our work, the office will be set up with shipping, photography, and computer stations and we plan to make these resources available to our member artists as well. The space will surely help us increase our membership and our inventory with in-person buying and mentoring. It will give us a place to sit down with artists to discuss their work and their businesses.
The bad news is that we have no funds set aside to furnish or rent the office! In addition to rent, here are some of the things we need:
Tables ~ Chairs ~ Shipping Scale ~ Shelving ~ Security System ~ Printer ~ Computers ~ Camera & Photo Equipment ~ Window Shades ~ Insurance ~
Marketing Collateral (signage, business cards, flyers, stickers, etc) ~
Display Fixtures ~ Office Supplies ~ Fridge ~ Microwave ~ Coffeemaker
I missed the deadline for the most promising grant for us this year (see reference to increasing workload above) but will apply for it next year and keep looking for others. In the meantime, we could really use your help. The more of these expenses that can be covered by our supporters, the less that will come out of income from our sales. That money has always gone back to the artists – and we would like to keep it that way.
Have more time than money to give?
We are in desperate need of volunteers.
Please visit https://www.sevenfiresart.com/pages/opportunities and consider how you can help.
It’s time to go big or go home!
Our purpose has become better defined and our model has proven successful, but there is so much more to do. And so we are reaching out to our supporters and friends to ask you to include Seven Fires in your charitable giving this year and next. We are also asking you to reach out to your friends, coworkers, employers, as well as businesses, churches or other organizations that might have an interest in being part of our Mission.